ADHD is an executive function disorder that can affect many aspects of the patient’s and patient’s family's lives. Beyond just basic focus concerns, ADHD can affect other domains including social, work, economic, safety, physical, and/or emotional. Medications are helpful for some of the above concerns, but they are far from curative. As such, treatment often includes a multifaceted approach that sometimes include specialized changes or supports in the areas of diet, physical activity, various forms of therapy, and executive function supports. Below are a basic list of resources that can begin to shed some light on how to conceptualize ADHD and the many ways it affects peoples’ lives, and then how to do everything we can to mitigate those issues.
There are many outside factors that, when addressed, can make a big dent in the symptoms related to ADHD. Each person's ADHD and comorbidities are different, so each of these ideas may have more or less benefits for you.
-Good sleep hygiene— Avoid cell phones, computers, tablets, and video games for at least an hour prior to bedtime. The bed should be only for sleeping, not for studying, texting, or gaming. Studies show that a cooler bedroom environment (between 68 and 72 degrees) is more conducive to good sleep.
--Neurofeedback treatment is an enhanced form of biofeedback that can help with executive function. Here is more information on this novel approach that can lead to positive, structural changes in the brain.
-Exercise & Sports— there are dozens of studies showing the benefit of regular exercise on ADHD symptoms. Benefits stem from getting excess energy out, the mindfulness implicit in all athletics, and in improvements in balance (see below for more on this). A good goal is at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise per day, 6 days per week.
-Balance training: Related to exercise, activities that incorporate some level of balance and coordination are especially helpful as well. There is growing evidence that strengthening the cerebellum (which is the part of the brain that governs balance) helps patients strengthen parts of their brain that help overcome some of the deficits in ADHD. Sports such as yoga, surfing, biking, soccer, ice skating, gymnastics, snowboarding, skiing, and martial arts all have a great deal of balance involved. Additionally, here is a great way to practice balancing at home that is worth looking into.
That said, please be wary of any “balance’ or “cerebellar reset programs” that claim to be able to completely cure ADHD. Those claims are often exaggerated.
-Diet does play a major role in ADHD. Here is a post worth looking at that delves into one diet that cuts out many foods that may lead to inflammation. Some of the diets out there can be pretty stringent, but one general theme is to try to avoid processed and high sugar foods (I know, easier said than done in many cases!).
-Many supplements can be helpful in ADHD. Here are some to consider, but please consult with your practitioner before taking the saffron or caffeine because it may interfere with other medications. Click on each of the supplements below to learn more.
-Omega 3 Fatty Acids
There are many great podcasts for adults with ADHD, but some honorable mentions include:
-I Have ADHD
-ADDitude's ADHD Experts Podcast
-From the ADHD Coaching perspective: Taking Control: The ADHD Podcast
Here are some great books for adults with ADHD — please read the summaries and reviews to see what might be a good fit for your situation:
Posted by David Danish MD